Bishop Brian Tamaki has hit out at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after Destiny School missed out on receiving a cut of the bumper $400 million school infrastructure bonus plan.
Over the weekend, Ardern revealed 2000 public schools would benefit from the Government's $400m spending plan, the largest spend on school infrastructure in 25 years.
According to the plan, schools will roughly be issued $700 per student from the large windfall.
However, the Destiny Church leader criticised the Government after Destiny School, a private school, missed out on any extra funding and has demanded that Ardern "pay up".
In an exclusive statement to the Herald, Tamaki says students at his "indigenous school" are being denied the same opportunities as other students who receive taxpayer-funded education dollars.
"Destiny School is an indigenous school here in New Zealand but, yet again, excluded from this funding.
"I believe all schools and communities should benefit from this windfall, including private
schools like Destiny School.
"All children in this country are important, including students in Destiny School. The parents of our students are taxpayers, just like everyone else, so they should receive the same benefits as other taxpayers, while also retaining the right to say which school their children should go to. Taxpayer-funded education dollars should follow each child.
"Over the past 16 years, Destiny School has been restricted in its delivery due to the
consistent knock-backs of successive governments to fund our applications to become a
chartered or integrated school. Despite ongoing glowing reports from the Education Review Office, we have still not received the financial support we require."
The Government said the $400m windfall will be spent on "much-needed" infrastructure upgrades, including fixing classrooms and making them more modern, replacing roofing and guttering and resurfacing paved areas.
Under the Government's plan, the ineligible Destiny School would have received close to $100,000 in assistance.
However, Tamaki claims the lack of government funding for Destiny School is based on "fear" that the school would use taxpayer money to "convert" students to Christianity.
"Some have argued there is a fear that to fund Destiny School you are then funding students being converted to Christianity. Yet, the government has been happy to fund other faith-based schools such as the largest Muslim Al–Madinah School, in Māngere, that teaches the Islamic faith.
"Too many Christian and Indigenous schools in New Zealand have been struggling and closing down due to lack of government funding and support."
Destiny School applied numerous times to become a charted or integrated school - each time being knocked back.
Destiny School caters for a roll where 90 per cent of students are of Māori or Pacific Island descent - moulding classes around their cultural and educational needs.
But Tamaki says they could also appeal to students deemed "too difficult" or those who struggle in mainstream schools if Destiny were given the same funding at public schools.
"With adequate funding, Destiny School has huge potential to effectively reach many of the students considered to be 'too-hard' or 'difficult' and who struggle in mainstream public schools.
"This money would enable Destiny School to develop the school's programmes delivery and cater to more Indigenous students. Presently we have many South Auckland students who would love to attend Destiny School due to our outstanding results, but they are prohibited by the out-of-reach private school fees we are forced to charge to cover operational and infrastructure costs."
The money allocated to the schools by the Government must be spent within the next two years and special schools will receive $200,000 each, regardless of their roll size.
For most of the schools, the extra funding represents a 40 per cent average increase over the next five years.